Hypertrichosis is a condition characterized by excessive hair growth beyond what is normal for the patient’s sex, age or ethnic group. It can occur in small patches or all over the body. It can also be congenital or acquired. Severe congenital hypertrichosis is sometimes called “werewolf syndrome.”
Hypertrichosis appears to have multiple, poorly understood causes. The congenital types can run in families, but they can also occur through mutation. It can also be a side effect caused by some drugs. Localized forms of the disorder have sometimes been caused by infections or various topical medications.
What is the treatment?
If the hypertrichosis is caused by a disease or drug, the doctor will treat the underlying problem. Most treatments, however, simply revolve around removing the excess hair. They can range from shaving to waxing to electrolysis. The hair, unfortunately, does grow back, so the patient has to repeat the process. Some of the methods can also cause scarring or allergic reactions.
How does laser hair removal work?
Laser hair removal is a newer method. The doctor uses a laser that releases a beam of light that destroys the hair follicle while leaving the surrounding skin undamaged. The laser targets the pigment in the follicle and is, therefore, most effective with dark hair that contrasts against light skin.
The patient may need several treatments to get the best results, and those results can last from three to six months. While electrolysis also produces long-lasting results, it is both slower and more painful than laser hair removal.
What happens during the procedure?
The doctor will use a hand-held device that emits the laser. The laser’s heat will destroy the hair follicles. That intense heat may provide some discomfort, and the doctor will, therefore, try to keep their skin cool by using a laser device that incorporates a cooling mechanism. The length of the procedure depends on the size of the treatment area.
What happens afterwards?
The treatment area may be red and swollen for a few hours after the procedure. Applying ice can relieve discomfort. The patient should avoid both sunlight and tanning beds while their skin heals. They should also use sunscreen.